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Updated: Oct 18, 2023

We need to give our brains a break, a rest from all the stress we have endured, particularly over the past few years. We have wrestled with COVID-19, economic uncertainty, racial tensions, war and the effects of global warming (natural disasters). I’m sure you can add a few personal issues to this list as well.

Stress is basically a lack of peace!

“God Make Me an Instrument of Thy PEACE, where there is hatred, let me sow LOVE”

Stress has an affect on every system of the body.

Musculoskeletal System: tension headaches, TMJ (Temporal mandibular joint disorder) or teeth grinding, chronic muscle tension in the shoulders, neck and head, low back pain and upper extremity pain has been linked to job stress. Sitting at a desk for hours results in protracted shoulders and extended cervical spine which can result in neck and shoulder discomfort. When people are stressed and/or unhappy they tend to regress into the same protracted shoulder and extended cervical spine posture (appearing to guard their hearts from pain). Endocrine System: During stressful situations the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol which is associated with weight gain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, skin changes, muscle weakness, mood swings, anxiety, depression and irritability (cortisol is a Bitch).

Nervous System: FIGHT or FLIGHT or FREEZE or FAWN The Sympathetic Nervous system is activated as a result of stress. The body begins to produce too much of the defense chemicals like adrenalin, cortisol (bitch) and norepinephrine. The heart rate increases or remains high for prolonged periods (overworking the heart), shallow breathing (hyperventilating), blood vessels dilate. The nervous system causes the body to prepare for an EMERGENCY!!!! After the perceived EMERGENCY or actual EMERGENCY is over, the Parasympathetic Nervous system (Rest and Digest) must bring the body back to “normal” or back to an unstressed state (is there such a thing ?) causing it to work overtime to calm everything down. During periods of traumatic stress, the Brocas area of the brain which is responsible for speech sometimes shuts down, preventing the traumatized person from speaking! Respiratory System: An increase in respiration or a labored breathing pattern (shallow chest breathing) occurs during stressful situations which affects the flow of oxygen to the brain potentially causing dizziness and or fainting. Gastrointestinal System: stomach pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, changes in appetite, diarrhea or constipation. Cardiovascular system: Chronic or constant stress causes long term heart and blood vessel problems like hyper tension (high blood pressure), heart attack and/or stroke. Basically every system of your body is negatively affected by stress. Stress also robs you of quality sleep! “Learning to distance yourself from all the negativity is one of the greatest lessons to achieve inner peace” (Roy T. Bennet) “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it.” (Maya Angelo) In a course called Mental Toughness and in my studies to become a Mindful Resilience yoga instructor there was one common thread. In fact this common thread was present in all of my course work over decades in the fitness industry. This profoundly simple method for managing stress is CONCIOUS BREATHING or Pranayama. The development of a steady mind, strong willpower and sound judgement by controlling the flow of breath in and out of the body. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is INSANITY”. If you are addressing stress with illegal drugs, excessive alcohol and or bad behavior, you are probably just creating more stress!!!! Take time away from THE BAD News on your devices. Focus on what you actually have control over. Learn to control your breathing through Pranayama or Conscious Breathing techniques. Try guided meditations or learn to meditate. Spend time in nature, in green spaces or near the ocean. Free Your Mind and Your Health will Follow! Love and Peace Laverne

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